Results tagged ‘ Jake goebbert ’

Astros add to bullpen depth with Blackley

Left-handed pitcher Travis Blackley was sent to the Astros from the Oakland A’s on Thursday in exchange for Triple-A outfielder Jake Goebbert. Blackley, who was designated for assignment six days ago, will be in uniform for the Astros when they open a three-game series against the A’s on Friday at Minute Maid Park.

Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said Blackley will be used in long relief.

“He’s a left-handed long man, which is something we’ve been trying to figure out how to work into our roster,” Luhnow said. “He had a lot of success as a starter and we believe that will translate well into our bullpen. We did have our scouts see him this spring and there was a long list of players that became available as the season started when everybody cut down to 25 [players]. He was at the top of our list, and we made a few phone calls and got it done.”

Blackley played a key role in the A’s run to the AL West title in 2012, going 6-4 with a 3.86 ERA. He struck out 69 batters and walked 30 in 102 2/3 innings. The southpaw has pitched over 1,100 innings in the Minors.

The Astros will have to clear a spot on the 40-man roster on Friday, but Luhnow said adding Blackley gives them more flexibility.

“There’s some good lineups we’re going to be facing with left-handed hitters, and four of our five rotation guys are right-handed, so if you follow them up with a left-handed long man, it gives you a platoon advantage that’s nice to have,” he said. “He’s been effective against lefties and righties.”

Blackley has held right-handers to a .269 batting average and left-handers to a .243 batting average in his career, which has included stops in Seattle and San Francisco. He’s one of three Astros players who played for the A’s organization last year, joining starting pitcher Brad Peacock and outfielder Chris Carter.

Peacock and Carter came to Houston two months ago in the trade that sent Jed Lowrie and Fernando Rodriguez to Oakland. <p>

Goebbert, a 13th-round Draft pick from Northwestern in 2009, spent the majority of the 2012 season in Double-A Corpus Christi, where he hit .304 with a .399 on-base percentage. The 25-year-old has 176 walks to 262 strikeouts in more than 1,500 Minor League at-bats.

DeShields, Springer among Astros’ first cuts

The Astros made their first roster cuts of the spring Sunday morning, reassigning second baseman Delino DeShields Jr., outfielder Jake Goebbert, outfielder Marc Krauss, center fielder George Springer and catcher Chris Wallace to Minor League camp and optioning left-hander Rudy Owens and right-hander Sam Demel to Minor League camp.

The cuts leave the Astros with 54 players in camp.

“The important thing for players like DeShields and Springer, who are a part of our future, was to come up here and make a good impression with a new staff and both of them absolutely did that,” Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said. “Goebbert has been a part of our Minor League system for a while and made a good impression, and Krauss had some big hits for us.

“The message to all those guys basically is you accomplished what your goal was this spring, you came up here and made a good impression on the staff. Krauss is a little bit closer. He’s a guy you could see having some time in Houston this year, and it’s nice when the staff has positive feelings about them so when we have a discussion, if there’s an opening later in the summer, they’ll be inclined to want him to come up.

“For all those guys, they did exactly what we wanted them to do.”

Minor League games begin on Thursday, and the Astros are expected to make another round of cuts later in the week, likely Wednesday. Players who were added to the 40-man roster for the first time this year can’t be cut from camp until Wednesday.

“It makes sense for them to go down there and get regular playing time rather than struggling to get at-bats up here,” Luhnow said. “As we get deeper and deeper into spring, the pitchers are going to be extended, but we want to see the position players be out there longer than two or three at-bats. It’s just a matter of allocating that resource of playing time.”

Luhnow said it hasn’t yet been determined at which level of the Minor Leagues the players cut on Sunday will begin the season. DeShields, the team’s first-round pick in 2010, was Houston’s Minor League Player of the Year after stealing a combined 101 bases last year. Springer, the team’s top Draft pick in 2011, put up big numbers at Class A Lancaster last year.

“Obviously, the more impressions they made here the better chance they have of starting at a higher level,” Luhnow said. “Realistically, given that Springer got a taste of Double-A last year and DeShields got a taste of high A, we don’t want to be too unrealistic about what the right level is for their development.”

Arizona Fall League update

There will be more on the Arizona Fall League and some other Astros playing in winter ball when the story posts on Astros.com later today, but here’s a sneak peek:

Astros general manager Ed Wade came away impressed after spending some time earlier this month getting a close-up look at the club’s prospects that are participating in the Arizona Fall League, which is about halfway through its schedule.

The seven players from the Houston organization are competing for the Salt River Rafters.

“We’re pleased with the way things are going there,” said Wade, who traveled to Arizona early in the month with assistant general manager David Gottfried. “We missed Jason Castro while we were there. I had seen him in instructional league the previous week and we had given Jason permission to be in a wedding and we missed him when we were out there. All reports we have gotten have been very solid.”

Astros Major League scout Paul Ricciarini is currently in Arizona and has sent positive reports back about Castro, who tore his right anterior cruciate ligament running the bases early in Spring Training and had season-ending knee surgery in March.

Castro, who’s expected to be the team’s starting catcher next year, was hitting .167 with five strikeouts in only 12 at-bats in four games (he was slowed by a ribcage injury), but he went 2-for-4 with a double, a run and an RBI on Thursday and, more importantly, is in good shape physically.

“Paul was very impressed with the way Jason has progressed since the last time he had a chance to see him,” Wade said.

The player putting up the best numbers for the Astros is first baseman Kody Hinze, who slugged 29 homers last season between Class A Lancaster and Double-A Corpus Christi combined. He was hitting .294 with two homers and nine RBIs through nine games.

Jake Goebbert, a left-handed-hitting outfielder who progressed from Lancaster to Triple-A Oklahoma City last season and hit a combined .290 with 12 homers and 67 RBIs, was batting .162 with two homers and three RBIs in 10 games. Speedy outfielder Jay Austin had appeared in five games and was hitting .263 with three stolen bases.

“From the position players we did see, Kody Hinze was swinging the bat well and driving in some runs,” Wade said. “Jay Austin was out there on a taxi squad and played a couple of games and got on base, and we see the same tools and same out of Jay since we drafted him and signed him. He just needs to continue to be given opportunities. He’s probably one of those guys that’s going to take a level at a time to get his feet on the ground and show what he’s capable of doing.

“Goebbert played in a couple of games and swung the bat well. He knows how to play the game the right way and we like what we saw out of him.

Left-hander Dallas Keuchel, who went 9-7 with a 3.17 ERA at Double-A before getting his feet wet at Triple-A last season, is 1-1 with a 4.91 ERA in three starts in Arizona.

“He’s one of those guys you have to ignore the radar gun when he’s pitching because he’s not going to put up big gun numbers,” Wade said. “In the game I saw him pitch, he was consistent with what I’ve seen out of him every time he’s pitched. He commanded his pitches well and he’s got an excellent changeup and changes speeds.”

Right-hander Jason Stoffel had appeared in six games and allowed five earned runs and eight walks and struck out nine batters in five innings. Right-hander Josh Zeid was 1-0 with a 9.00 ERA in six games, but he had allowed only one run in his past three outings entering play Monday.

A look back on the 2011 Minor League season

The Astros’ eight Minor League affiliates went a combined 337-488, with no team finishing with a winning record. Of the four full-season clubs, Triple-A Oklahoma City finished with the best record at 68-75 in the Pacific Coast League. Double-A Corpus Christi went 50-90 overall, Class A Lancaster was 55-85 overall and Class A Lexington was 59-79 overall.

Astros director of player development Fred Nelson wished the teams’ collective performances would have been better, but the club pushed players aggressively through the system this year and continued to send players to the Major Leagues.

“I would say we’re disappointed from a team standpoint, but I spent some time over the weekend looking at some things and our clubs have been very young,” Nelson said. “And so it makes it difficult at times to compete. That’s no excuse, but certainly our clubs have been young and we’re also just one of seven other clubs that field seven teams here in the United States, so you spread your players a little bit thinner. The individual performances have been very rewarding.”

The system sent several players to the Major Leagues, including third baseman Jimmy Paredes, second baseman Jose Altuve and left fielder J.D. Martinez, each of whom made the jump from Double-A to start in the big leagues. Twenty-year-old pitcher Jordan Lyles made 15 starts for the Astros.

“We moved a lot of players this year, some of it by need,” Nelson said. “Also, just the domino effect. When you take guys to the big leagues it creates holes and opportunities, and we really pushed a lot of kids and most have held their own and done quite well and positioned themselves to be pretty good players for us.”

The biggest impact on the system came when the team traded away Jeff Keppinger, Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn near the Trade Deadline. The Astros received 10 players in return, including four of the Phillies’ top prospects – pitchers Jarred Cosart, first baseman Jonathan Singleton, pitcher Josh Zeid and a player to be named later that turned out to be outfielder Domingo Santana.

Pitcher Henry Sosa, who came from the Giants in the Keppinger deal, joined the Astros rotation and has pitched well. Two players acquired from the Braves – outfielder Jordan Schafer and pitcher Juan Abreu – are in the Major Leagues.

“The influx of players, especially the pitchers we got in the trades, have helped us at the Double-A and Triple-A levels moving forward,” Nelson said. “And some of the young kids, the Singleton kid and the signing of [first-round pick George] Springer and the Santana kid that we got from Philadelphia, has really helped us get younger.”

Springer is scheduled to go the instructional league in Florida, and the team is exploring the possibility of trying to find him a winter ball spot in a less competitive environment that Venezuela or the Dominican Republic.

“I think he’ll have a busy offseason playing and that should position himself well to come to Spring Training with a good idea of what’s expected and what’s here,” Nelson said.

The Astros were, of course, thrilled with what Kody Hinze was able to do while splitting the season between Class A Lancaster and Double-A Corpus Christi. He hit a combined .306 with 29 homers and 98 RBIs. He had a .458 on-base percentage and a 1.083 OPS in 80 games at Lancaster, which is in the hitting-friendly California League.

One of the players that opened eyes this season is left-handed hitting outfielder Jacob Goebbert, who began the year in Lancaster and finished in Triple-A Oklahoma City. He hit a combined .290 with 12 homers and 67 RBIs with a .352 on-base percentage.

The Astros were pleased with the progress of shortstop Jonathan Villar, who was acquired last year in a trade with the Phillies. He began the season at Lancaster and finished up at Corpus Christi and began to mature and settle into his new surroundings.

Nelson was also impressed with right-hander Jake Buchanan, a starter who was drafted in the eighth round in 2010. He went 5-10 with a 3.91 ERA at Lancaster, walking 35 batters and striking out 102 in 158 2/3 innings in the hitter-friendly California League.

“He pitched exceptionally well,” Nelson said. “We moved him for his last start, with [Lucas] Harrell coming to the big leagues, and he went to Double-A and threw seven innings and gave up a run. That was a nice ending to the season. You’ve got to be excited about what he did.”

Outfielder Austin Wates, the team’s third-round pick in 2010 out of Virginia Tech, batted .300 with nine triples, six homers and 75 RBIs this year in 526 at-bats at Lancaster.

“He’s somebody that had not played a lot in the organization,” Nelson said. “He signed late and went to Tri-City and for the first time and in a full season to go out to the Cal League and do what he did, ending up at .300 and driving in 70-plus runs, that’s good.”

As far as the team’s most recent first-round selections, 2010 pick Delino DeShields Jr. batted just .220 with 30 stolen bases in Class A Lexington of the South Atlantic League, but the Astros were pleased with the way he made the transition full-time from the outfield to second base.

“Delino DeShields actually played outstanding in the Sally League when you look at the fact he played all year at 18,” Nelson said. “I believe he may have been the youngest player in the league. To go from being a converted outfielder to the infield and what we saw of him a year ago in the instructional league to where he stands now defensively is pretty remarkable on his part.

“You have to give him a lot of credit, and a lot of credit to the development people who worked with him. He has a long way to go. He’s just 18 years old, and I could see him being a player that repeats in that league.”

Shortstop Jiovanni Mier, the team’s No. 1 pick in 2009, split the season between Lexington and Lancaster and batted a combined .239 with seven homers, 52 RBIs and a .345 on-base percentage.

“After the All-Star game, we moved him to California League and he played outstanding defense,” Nelson said. “He did get hurt; he missed two-to-three weeks with a knee injury. He has made some adjustments offensively and I think he’s had some challenges offensively. He’s positioned himself to come back and compete for a job in Double-A next year.”

Meanwhile, Vincent Velasquez is making progress in his return from Tommy John surgery. Velasquez was the Astros’ second-round pick in 2010 out of high school in Southern California, and he injured his elbow pitching at rookie-league Greeneville.

Nelson said he’ll throw some innings in the instructional league later this month.

“We’re excited about the progress he made, and we’re looking forward to him getting back into action,” he said. “It’s almost like we acquired another [player through the draft].”

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